Then: Junior Fellow, U.S. Role in the World Program (2004-2005)
Now: Professor of Political Science, Tufts University; Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
As a professor and foreign policy adviser, I spend most of my time researching, writing, and speaking about America’s role in the world. The junior fellowship in the U.S. Role in the World program was the perfect job to start my career.
My bosses, Robert Kagan and Ashley Tellis, not only helped me develop my own research projects, they also used their clout to help get my work published in prominent newspapers and magazines. They also assigned me tasks that gave me real experience as a scholar and adviser. I researched a book, drafted policy memos, wrote speeches, and planned events attended by senior foreign officials.
Today, I rely on those experiences to do my job. I recently finished my first book, drafted a strategy document for the U.S. Department of Defense, delivered lectures to 200 students, and organized an event involving U.S. and Chinese policymakers and scholars.
More important, the junior fellowship encouraged me to pursue my passion for U.S. foreign policy. In college, I studied international affairs, but without much drive or direction—I initially majored in Italian Studies, mainly because I liked Italian food.
On a study abroad trip to Italy, however, I happened to pass through the area where my great uncle was killed in World War II. As we drove through, I thought about how he fought for the United States while his entire family, including my grandmother, was imprisoned in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans; and I thought about how he was only 20 when he was killed—the same age I was during my trip—and how his experience, in the same area at the same age, was nothing like my own: he was fighting Nazis; I was studying Italian art and partying with other American students.
Needless to say, great-power politics and U.S. security policy suddenly became very personal for me, and I decided to study them intensely. I wasn’t sure that I could earn a living in foreign affairs, but then the Carnegie Junior Fellows program changed my life by showing me that there are, in fact, many exciting jobs in foreign affairs and by giving me the experience and exposure I needed to jumpstart my career. Since leaving Carnegie, I’ve had the opportunity to work as a foreign policy analyst in government, business, and academia. I credit the Junior Fellows program with giving me my first break, which made all of these other opportunities possible.